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Understaffed and Overworked

Air traffic controllers said they're exhausted. Soon after the crash of Comair Flight 5191 the FAA ordered staffing changes at Blue Grass airport to ensure enough operators were on duty. Only one was there at the time of the August 27th crash.

The president of Local Air Traffic Controllers Association, Randy Harris said staffing has gotten worse since the crash. Harris said a shortage of controllers is forcing the 16 fully qualified ones to work large amounts of overtime. 1700 hours of overtime has been worked in the 8 months since the crash, that's compared to just 100 in the same amount of time before last August. Harris said at least one person per day works 16 hours.

National Executive President of the Air Traffic Controllers Association, Paul Rinaldi, told the Louisville Courier Journal, "We're human beings." "You increase the probability that human error is going to happen because they are just tired and not able to recoup."

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown responded saying the overtime is used to cover the training of new controllers and additional training for all controllers.

Harris said that is a lie.

Brown further stated, that "just like pilots and other safety workers, controllers are expected to report to work well-rested."

Harris agreed, but said the possibility of all employees doing that with the amount of hours they're being forced to work is slim. Harris, also says he doesn't believe the staffing problem at Blue Grass will be solved by the FAA.

"I hate to say this, but it will take another big event before they wake up," said Harris.

Harris plans to retire next year and other controllers plan to retire soon. They said the way the FAA is short staffing the tower is forcing the air traffic controllers out.


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